Posted 8/7/16

Story, photos by Kevin Pakos for Sports & Entertainment NewsASPN Radio 


ACU Arizona Christian University Firestorm Have a Target on Their Back in Third Season


Last Season CSFL Champions Picked to Repeat.


A little history, Donnie Yantis (2014 radio interview, listen) accepted the HC position in November 2013 in August 2014 the Firestorm kicked off season one. Record for year 2-7. The second season was full of hope, good recruiting and everything looked promising. The first three games changed everything. The Firestorm went 0-3. A very ugly, take your hope and bury it in a deep hole 0-3. The worst loss was a road game to Western New Mexico University, the Mustangs. The score 14 to 70, WNMU. The thing is, it wasn’t even that close. The Firestorm may have set a scoring record in every phase of the game, offense, defense, special teams, for the Mustangs.


Tried by fire, things could only go one of two ways. (Proverbs 17:3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests hearts.) Coach Yantis, his staff, the players in leadership and those that pray, teach and exhort the team all got together. The team had to deal with the reality of where they had been. Then they had to decide how they would go forward.


My parable: Four really big freshman, a fast running back, a veteran center and newly refocused quarterback all walked into a team meeting. (Made ya look) When they and their squad came out they had decided to do whatever it took to finish strong, build step by step and make the season something worth remembering. Of course coaches Donnie Yantis and Jeff Bowen had plenty to say as well.


Leadership, the tip of the spear. The veteran center, Brennan Bowen became the voice and heart of the offensive line. The quarterback, Gerrit Groenewold, he found his place in the loss at WNMU, then had one more loss to go. He emerged repented, thankful, grateful and prepared. On the ground was a young man that knew trial by fire and was determined to make his last college season a great one. Like a match to a flame P.J. Sparks did that and led the team through.


These three, I spoke with on several occasions, in the first season for ACU in 2014 and in year two 2015. What stood out is that during the fire, when their hearts were being tested, they responded with the same passion as they did at the end of the season. They played for an “audience of one” giving God all the Glory and accepting the results of their efforts. They know that all they could give was the best they had, and if it was not enough to win, it was enough for Him.


At ACU the school slogan is “Transforming Culture with Truth” easy to say, a little harder to live that life.


They each made it their task to do what had to be done, lead by example on and off the field. Then they would do all they could as teammates to lift everyone up. The job I found most interesting was the one Brennan Bowen was tasked with. He was the son of a high school and college football coach. That would be current ACU Head Coach Jeff Bowen. Whom he played for at Westview High School. Brennan started his college career at Adams State, since the program at ACU did not exist.


He came home to be with family. His job in 2015 was to help four very young kids right out of high school play college football. He did that while snapping the ball with two freshmen on his right side and two more on his left. It is a tough enough job calling signals from the center position if you working with experienced vets.


The Firestorm lost game one 21-48, game two 14-70 then game three 27-45. These were all non-conference games. Brennan, Gerritt, P.J. and their team took the lessons learned to heart and finished with six straight wins. Dominating in all but one. At the end the Firestorm were CSFL Central States Football League Champions in only their second year of existence. Head Coach Donnie Yantis won honors as AFCA Regional Coach of the Year.


Then ACU followed that up with a record setting recruiting season. The result of that was the Coach Yantis took a job on the staff at Arizona State University, football Sun Devils. Sort of funny, from AZ Christian to the Devils. Taking over for him would be Jeff Bowen. Together they started the ACU program, it is fitting that the longtime friends could share this journey.


Something that will work in their favor is the strong leadership of these guys. A few, I spoke of earlier. On offense JR QB Gerrit Goenewold, SR C Brennan Bowen, SR WR Donovan Smith. They were First Team ALL CSFL last year. On defense, also earning First Team All CSFL honors SO LB Austin Schleier and SR DB Timothy Clayton.


They open on the road Saturday: 5pm at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin Odessa, TX Falcons Lone Star Conference LSC a Division 2 program that is now 1-0 after beating Division III Sul Ross State 27-6 last Saturday.


You can find their scores online each week at our CFB Website You can also get live game scoring updates on Twitter @aspnradiocom as well as on Facebook we have been bringing the news of ACU Firestorm football since they began.


The target on their back is real. They shook up the CSFL by going through it unbeaten last season. Now those teams have a book on the Firestorm and will prepare with revenge on their mind. As for the coaching change, Jeff Bowen is one of the main reasons the program has done so well. Coach Yantis getting promoted to the Pac12 and ASU Sun Devils is proof that ACU is a program to watch.


Tag along with the #Firestorm in 2016


#CSFLChampions  #ACU  #Firestorm  #RollStorm  #AllIn #StormOfFire #Champions  #ACU #christianeducation #ACUfootball  #Champions Plus you can get scores and updates with ours #ASPN #AzFL  


We look forward to the season and wish the staff and players many blessings and much success. Be sure to follow their progress on our College Football webpage where we track al four of Arizona’s Universities: ACU, ASU, NAU, UA. CU at the games.

The ACU Firestorm pick up first win of the season and first win for Head Coach Jeff Bowen, in overtime.  #RollStorm   

The ACU Firestorm flew to Michigan to play the Davenport Panthers and to return flight time restrictions had an early game, 8am AZ time. It was a long trip and a hard 20-7 loss as the Firstorm fall to 1-2.  #RollStorm   

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